I was 21 and it was the 100th anniversary of the United States invasion of Puerto Rico. I remember marching in the street and hearing/learning so many songs. I learned the real anthem of Puerto Rico. Not the one about flowers but the one about machetes. I learned songs my parents, with all their good assimiliationist intentions – would never teach me.
In the midst of deep desperation on Saturday, in the midst of hearing stereotypes of lazy, unworthy Puerto Ricans left to die (killed) porque ya we can’t serve the empire, because we wouldn’t stop having babies, because we wouldn’t stop teaching our children the history of the flag – I started to sing songs, explaining them to my own younger child. I started to tell he the history of the flag – the original one, and the protest one. She was bored but I didn’t care. I want her to remember, in case they do say we disappeared, we died, we fled, we abandoned, we assimilated.
I sang to keep from crying and it helped for awhile. As long as we have our voices, our stories, how history they cannot disappear us.